First Sam Querrey stared far down the other end of the court, beyond his opponent, fellow American Rajeev Ram. Then the 28-year-old Californian sneaked a peak over at chair umpire Fergus Murphy and saw the official giving him a thumbs-up sign.
Still, Querrey had to wait out a challenge by Ram on the call made by a linesperson on match point. He waited for the video replay to confirm that his running forehand passing shot had, in fact, clipped the back of the line, giving him a 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) win and his first championship at the Delray Beach Open. Querrey raised his arms as much in relief as in exultation.
“When that challenge went up, I kind of thought I had missed it,” said Querrey, who rebounded from 0-3, 2-5 and 6-7 in the tiebreaker, saving a set point with one of 10 aces he had in the match. “It was kind of nervous, ugly tennis all week, especially with the wind. I just had to settle in. But sometimes it feels better to win when you don’t play your best.”
The title, which earned Querrey $86,950, was the eighth of his career and first since Los Angeles in 2012. It also moved him back into the world’s top 45 from a current No. 61. Querrey was ranked a high of No. 17 in January of 2011.
This was only the second time in the 24-year history of the tournament that two unseeded players met in the final. In 2013, Ernests Gulbis of Latvia defeated Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Ram, who entered Delray with just two match wins in four tournaments this year, upset second-seeded Bernard Tomic in the first round and fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.
Querrey, who was down a break in six of the 10 sets he won throughout the week, knocked out former U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the semifinals. Del Potro was playing in his first tournament in 11 months because of two surgeries on his left wrist last year.
Ram broke serve in the first game of both sets and also led 40-15 while serving at 4-5 in the first. But the 31-year-old Carmel, Indiana, resident lost four consecutive points and gave away the set with a stab forehand long off Querrey’s inside-out forehand return that landed on the sideline.
“People don’t give him credit for how well he moves,” said Ram, who has played Querrey seven times dating back to a Challenger event in California in 2005, losing to him now four times in a row. “He makes you feel like you have to play a better shot.”
Austrian Oliver Marach and Frenchman Fabrice Martin denied Bob and Mike Bryan their fifth Delray Beach doubles title by upsetting the top seeds 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 13-11.
The Bryans held a match point in the second-set tiebreaker and five more in the deciding super-tiebreaker before Martin hit a winning overhead on his team’s second match point.